Celebrating Malta’s greatest literary minds with the National Book Prize


Malta and Gozo are home to some very talented people. With talented authors recognized for their efforts in our two national languages, the National Book Council celebrates novels, short stories, poetry and more.

The winning titles of the Premju Nazzjonali Tal-Ktieb were selected by a panel of independent judges from a shortlist of 46 titles, published the previous year, in eight competitive categories.

First up we have Gioele Galea who is the winner of the Maltese and English Novels Award. With his novel In-Nar Għandu Isem: Noti Minn Paġna Intima (Horizons), Galea takes a witty look at the lives of its main characters. Galea himself experiencing solitude and having really time to think about life, the silence with which he surrounds himself serves as a springboard to express himself.

Then we have the Short Stories in Maltese and English category. Kissirtu Kullimkien (Merlin Editors), Lara Calleja’s collection of short stories explores in depth how the construction industry and Maltese models affect Maltese culture. Emphasizing the importance of unspoiled spaces, Calleja speaks from the heart when she delivers these stories.

Moving on to poetry, the winner of Poetry in Maltese and English is Carmel Scicluna with his L-Ambjent Li Qeridna: Poeżiji (2017-2020) (Horizons). Written in Maltese, Scicluna deals with general dissatisfaction with the current state of the world.

“Carmel Scicluna with his works has established himself as a powerful poet who has strong literary admirers,” said Dr Paul Xuereb.

Lots of great literary works exist in various languages. An award category that recognizes the wealth of ideas that await us beyond our language was also part of this ceremony. This is why the National Book Council awarded the prize for the best translation.

Paul Zahra, with his Mix-Xaqliba Ta ‘Dar Swann – Ismijiet Ta’ Pajjiżi: L-Isem (Paul Zahra), was crowned winner of this award. Zahra’s work completes the translation of the first volume of In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust.

Non-fiction books are also very important to the literary identity of Malta, which is why the Literary Non-Fiction Prize was awarded to Immanuel Mifsud and Toni Sant. Their work Jien – Noti – Jien: Ħsejjes u Stejjer (Klabb Kotba Maltin), where Mifsud and Sant emphasize the idea that the book began to be written without the aim of creating a complete body of works.

Mifsud and Sant stress the importance of April 16, 2020, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why.

The only way forward is research, and that is why the winner of the General Research Prize is Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci with his work The beheading of Ignez: Katabasis, Ezra Pound and three Maltese artists (Horizons). In this philosophical and historical work, Bonaci challenges various categories of art and juxtaposes them with the development of modern art in Malta.

The second research prize, entitled Biographical and historiographical research, was awarded to Martin Micallef, publisher of the book Crux Invicta: Il-KurÄ‹ifiss Mirakuluż u L-KapuÄ‹Ä‹ini F’Għawdex (Books of Midsea). In addition to being a work that tells the complicated story of a 17th century crucifix, it is also a work that highlights the history, culture and spirituality of the Maltese Islands and of the Capuchin Order in Gozo.

Producing a beautiful book has its own challenges, which is why the National Book Council sincerely congratulated the work accomplished through its award for the best book production. This was awarded to Midsea Books for their work Addolorata cemetery (Books of Midsea), where they highlighted the unique history of the cemetery through exceptional photographs and illustrations.

Celebrating the efforts of emerging authors, the award for best emerging author went to Stephen Lughermo. With numerous publications in all genres, Lughermo began his journey in 2015, when his very first work was published. Some of Lughermo’s works include Jarmouk with his most recent work entitled elel Bla Ħitan.

Last but not least, the Lifetime Achievement Award for Contribution to Literature was awarded to Rena Balzan. Publishing four novels in Maltese, having his job Ilkoll ta ‘Nisel Wieħed (Faraxka Books) being translated into English and published in the USA under the title Links in the mirror of time in 2014, Balzan achieved incredible things. She has also published several scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Co-author of various works and translation of his words into English, French, Italian and German, Balzan’s words crossed the borders of Malta.

These awards are important to the Maltese literary scene as they help foster a sense of ownership of the way our country’s history is told. Recognizing the talents and efforts that are found on our island helps to raise awareness of the possibilities that we have on our doorstep.

All award-winning literary works can be purchased at major bookstores and publishers in Malta. These pieces would make a great Christmas present for this holiday season.

Tag someone who loves literature!

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Greta is a creative person who loves to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. She’s also pretty quick when it comes to writing … and speaking. You can see what shenanigans she’s doing on her personal instagram @littlegretz or email her at [email protected]!


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